Appendix One
Appendix Two
Appendix Three
Appendix Four
Appendix Five
Appendix Six
Appendix Seven
Appendix Eight

Appendix 1 Outcome and program statement: Family Court of Australia

Table A1.1: Outcome 2: Family Court of Australia
Outcome 2: Apply and uphold the rule of law for litigants in the Family Court of Australia through the resolution of family law matters according to law, particularly more complex family law matters and through the effective management of the administrative affairs of the Court. BUDGET 2019–20 ($’000) ACTUAL 2019–20 ($’000) VARIATION ($’000)
Program 2.1 – Family Court of Australia
Administered expenses

Special appropriations

100

24

76

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriation1

34,244

31,884

2,360

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the budget year

11,906

14,212

-2,306

Total for Program 2.1

46,250

46,120

130

Total expenses for outcome 2

46,250

46,120

130

Average staffing level (number)

93

87

1 Departmental appropriation combines ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act Nos 1 and 3) and retained revenue receipts under section 74 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Appendix 2 Staffing profile: Family Court of Australia

From 1 July 2016, the Courts Administration Legislation Amendment Act 2016 designated the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court, together with the Federal Court of Australia, a single statutory agency for the purposes of the Public Service Act 1999.

Heads of jurisdiction continue to be responsible for managing the administrative affairs of their respective Courts (excluding corporate services), with assistance from a CEO and Principal Registrar.

All staff are employed by the Federal Court entity under the Public Service Act 1999, regardless of which Court or Tribunal they work for or provide services to.

The total staffing number for the combined entity (Federal Court, Family Court, Federal Circuit Court and the National Native Title Tribunal), as at 30 June 2020, was 1091 employees. This includes 758 ongoing and 333 non-ongoing employees.

Staff providing direct support to the Family Court (numbers of which are included in the total number above) include:

  • 65 judicial support staff providing support to justices of the Family Court
  • 42 registrars providing support to the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, and
  • 90 family consultants providing support to the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court.

At 30 June 2020, there were 33 judicial positions in the Family Court, including the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice. Judges’ numbers are not included in the overall entity staffing number.

For more information about staffing see Part 4 (Management and accountability) and Appendix 9 (Staffing profile) of the Federal Court of Australia’s 2019–20 annual report.

Appendix 3 Significant and noteworthy judgments

A selection of significant and noteworthy judgments are published in this report.

The Court recognises that the accessibility of its judgments to the public is important. It commits the resources required to ensure that every final judgment delivered is anonymised and published consistent with s 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). This policy has enabled the Court to better respond to community interest and concerns about particular cases highlighted in the media and demonstrates the commitment of the Court to being open and accountable for its decisions.

Judgments, after anonymisation, are made available in full text on the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) website and provided to legal publishers. There is a link to the AustLII site from the Court’s website at www.familycourt.gov.au.

The Court’s website provides links to recent decisions on Austlii. Links to Full Court decisions are provided for two months and links to first instance decisions are provided for one month.

In 2019–20, the Court provided access to 1225 first instance judgments and 309 Full Court/Appellate jurisdiction judgments.

Walpole & Secretary, Department of Communities and Justice

(2020) FLC 93-950; [2020] FamCAFC 65 (Ryan, Aldridge & Watts JJ)

Appeal—Child abduction—Hague Convention—Mother removed the children from their country of habitual residence—Grave risk—Family violence—Discretion of the Central Authority to refuse to act on a request made by a left behind parent—Model Litigant Guidelines—State or Agency should not require a person to prove something that the State/Agency knows to be true

This was an appeal brought by the mother of two young children against a decision of the Family Court of Australia to grant an application made by the Secretary, Department of Communities and Justice (the Central Authority) for the return of the children to New Zealand, their country of residence.

The father had an extensive criminal history including offences committed in New Zealand and Australia. The father’s record included domestic violence offences against the mother yet the only offence disclosed by the application relied on by the Central Authority was a driving offence for which he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment in Australia. He was deported to New Zealand and banned from re-entering Australia. The mother, who was pregnant with their second child, travelled with the first child to New Zealand to live with the father. New Zealand Police recorded numerous Police interventions concerning violence by the father against the mother. With the assistance of New Zealand Police, the mother and children returned to Australia.

Central to the appeal was the approach to the ‘grave risk’ defence. The mother sought and was given leave to adduce evidence on appeal of the father’s history of violence in Australia. Equipped with this additional evidence, the mother was also given leave to raise ‘intolerable situation’. The majority found that the case was exceptional, given the serious issues concerning the welfare of young children and that the violence was categorised by the family consultant as ‘potentially the most dangerous in terms of possible lethality and physical harm’.

In discussing the defences, the majority applied DP v Commonwealth Central Authority (2001) 206 CLR 401, that the discretion requires consideration of ‘not only that there will be judicial proceedings in the country of return but also that there will be suitable interim arrangements for the child’. Their Honours referred to TB v JB (Abduction: grave risk of harm) [2001] 2 FLR 515 as authority for the proposition that ‘the risks in question are those faced by the children, not by the parent’, however consideration of whether the primary carer of the children will face severe difficulties in properly attending the children’s needs is relevant.

The extensive evidence given by the family consultant as to the severity of the father’s family violence, compelled the conclusion that it would be intolerable for the children to return to New Zealand. A complicating factor was the parents’ history of separation and reconciliation, which informed the Court that should the mother return to New Zealand with the children, there was a real possibility that the parents would again live together and the risk of violence would escalate. All three limbs of reg 16(3)(b) of the Family Law (Child Abduction) Regulations 1986 (Cth) (the Abduction Regulations) were made out.

The majority (Ryan & Aldridge JJ) discussed adherence to the Model Litigant Guidelines by the Central Authority and observed that these Guidelines require the Central Authority to act with complete propriety and in accordance with the highest professional standards. However, it appeared that no attempt was made by the Central Authority to make the father’s history of violence and other crimes known to the Court, nor the involvement of various child protection agencies. Instead, this task was left to the mother and the Independent Children’s Lawyer. Fortunately, the mother was granted legal aid, but their Honours questioned what would have happened if she was not. The majority went on to consider whether requesting and central authorities have a discretion to refuse to act on a request of a left behind parent. It was considered that this is likely so, as Reg 14 of the Abduction Regulations states that a Central Authority ‘may’ apply to the Court. The majority encouraged the Commonwealth and Special Commissions who oversee the Abduction Convention to give this further consideration.

Oswin & Oswin

(2019) FLC 93-916; [2019] FamCAFC 164 (Kent, Watts & Tree JJ)

Appeal—Parenting—Contravention of parenting orders—Mother sentenced to seven days of imprisonment suspended for two years—Primary judge failed to give reasons for finding that no other penalty was appropriate—Procedural fairness—Mother was self-represented with no legal training—Primary judge failed to sufficiently explain to the mother the relevant law and procedure

This case involved an appeal against orders that the mother of three children be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of seven days, suspended for two years, upon being found guilty of three contraventions of parenting orders without reasonable excuse. These included that the mother failed to consult the father prior to enrolling the children at a school, applied for a scholarship and failed to renew the children’s passports.

The Full Court found that the primary judge was incorrect in finding that the mother had contravened the orders, incorrectly treated the contravention allegations as a more serious disregard of orders and denied the mother procedural fairness.

Before a sentence of imprisonment can be imposed in contravention proceedings, the Court must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of all factual matters relating to the alleged contravention, that the contravention is a ‘more serious contravention’ to which the more punitive powers apply and of the inappropriateness of all other available sanctions. Subdivision E of Division 13A of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) apply for less serious contraventions and those powers do not extend to ordering a sentence of imprisonment. Subdivision F includes power to impose a sanction of imprisonment, but is reserved for contraventions that are more serious.

In this case, the parties were not given any opportunity to make submissions on the point of whether the contraventions ought to be treated as less serious pursuant to Subdivision E or more serious under Subdivision F and the difference between the two approaches was not explained to the mother. A final complicating factor, which heightened the obligations of the primary judge in respect to procedural fairness, was that the sentence of imprisonment was ordered on the Court’s own motion.

Grange & Grange

[2019] FamCAFC 205 (Strickland, Ainslie-Wallace & Aldridge JJ)

Appeal—Trusts and gifts—Whether retention of proceeds of sale by third party was unconscionable —Where not being fully informed is insufficient to meet the standard of a special disadvantage—Evidence does not support unconscionability

This was an appeal against property settlement orders between the former husband and wife and the husband’s mother, as well as other parties who were not relevant to the appeal. The primary judge found that the only property held by the husband and wife was the proceeds of sale of a business licence in the sum of just over $1 million. This sum was received by the husband’s mother more than 10 years ago. The primary judge concluded that the transfer of the funds to the husband’s mother was unconscionable as it occurred without the wife’s ‘fully informed consent’ and thus, the husband’s mother held those funds as trustee for the husband and wife. An order was made for the funds to be divided equally between the husband and wife. Whilst the primary judge did not specify what kind of trust was found to have been established, the Full Court inferred that it was a constructive trust.

Upon the sale of the business license, the husband and the wife each executed a document headed ‘Authority’ directed to their solicitors as to how the proceeds of sale were to be paid. The cheques for the purchase price were directed to be paid to the husband’s mother. The wife also signed an additional document, stating that she was aware of the sale agreement and agreed to it.

On appeal, the husband argued that there were no circumstances justifying the finding that the husband’s mother held the funds on trust for the husband and the wife, but rather, the evidence before the Court indicated that the funds were given to the husband’s mother as a gift.

The Full Court disagreed with the primary judge’s conclusion that the transfer of the funds to the husband’s mother was unconscionable. The findings that the wife’s understanding of the legal effect of the matter was ‘unlikely to have been complete’ or that the documents were not signed with her ‘full knowledge… of the facts or her legal position’ and that the direction did not occur with her ‘fully informed consent’ were considered by the Full Court as insufficient to establish unconscionability. There was no evidence that the wife was of poor mentality or weak will and thus, not only was there no basis for finding unconsionability pursuant to Commercial Bank of Australia Ltd v Amadio (1983) 151 CLR 447, but findings of duress or coercion were similarly precluded. The proposition that not being ‘fully informed’ of the legal effect of the matter could establish a special disadvantage was ultimately rejected by the Full Court.

Goldsmith & Stinson and Ors

(2019) FLC 93-930; [2019] FamCAFC 230 (Strickland, Ryan & Austin JJ)

Appeal—Property settlement—Failure to hear and determine an application for declaratory relief—Duty to exercise jurisdiction once invoked by an application—Adequacy of reasons—Failure to give adequate weight to contributions

This case involved property settlement proceedings between parties who had been married for some 12 years. The wife sought a declaration that the husband’s father held the land upon which the parties’ home was built, on trust for her and the husband in equal shares. The wife’s case was that essentially, the husband and wife had constructed their family home on land to which the husband’s father held exclusive legal title following promises by him of their eventual proprietary entitlement to the land. The husband’s father passed away prior to the final orders being made and the husband received an inheritance, which included the land upon which the family home was built.

The land apparently was comprised of three separate parcels. The husband’s position was that he retain exclusive legal title to all three parcels and the wife sought orders conferring her with exclusive legal title to at least two of the parcels, including the one on which the family home stood. The primary judge determined all parcels of land should be retained by the husband.

The Full Court found that while the primary judge was correct that it was not necessary to decide whether the husband’s late father held the family home as constructive trustee for the spouses given that at that stage the husband owned the family home exclusively, the wife’s application for the declaration of her equitable interest in the family home ought to have been heard and determined.

The husband submitted that the permissive language of s 78 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), providing that a Court may make such a declaration, enabled the primary judge to take the approach that her Honour did. The Full Court rejected that submission and observed that such language ‘is no more than statutory recognition of the wide power to either grant or decline declaratory relief’ [17] (see Forster v Jododex Australia Pty Ltd (1972) 127 CLR 421 at 435). The primary judge was vested with the discretion to refuse the remedy sought by the wife, but not discretion to refuse the exercise of jurisdiction. For the application to be dismissed, it had to first be heard and considered.

Their Honours observed that there is no reason in principle why, in an appropriate case, declarations as to property rights cannot be made. Whether or not such a declaration is necessary is a different question. The Full Court observed that it will usually be unnecessary to complicate s 79 proceedings with such a resolution to equity claims between spouses.

Their Honours found that the primary judge was obliged to give proper consideration to the evidence proffered by the wife in relation to her proportional entitlement to the property. The wife’s contention that the primary judge failed to properly consider this evidence was made out. The Full Court drew the inference that upon the primary judge refusing to determine the wife’s equity claim, that disregard influenced the way in which the parties’ contributions were evaluated.

Caulfield & Read and Anor

[2020] FamCAFC 127 (Ainslie-Wallace, Aldridge & Watts JJ)

Appeal—Property—Whether a registered mortgage is subject to s 24 of the Limitation of Actions Act 1974 (Qld) —Whether the appellant’s rights under his mortgage over the husband and the wife’s property have been extinguished—Tension between s 24 of the Limitation of Actions Act 1974 (Qld) and the Land Title Act 1994 (Qld)

In this case, the appellant contended that a registered mortgage which he held over three properties owned by the husband and the wife was not subject to s 24 of the Limitation of Actions Act 1974 (Cth) (the Limitation Act) because that section specifically exempts registered interests under the Land Title Act 1994 (Qld) (the Land Title Act) (the successor to the Real Property Act 1861 (Qld) (repealed)) from its operation. For context, s 24(1) of the Limitation Act provides for the extinction of title after the expiration of the limitation period prescribed by the Limitation Act, ‘subject to… the Real Property Act 1861’. Pursuant to s 26 of the Limitation Act, the appellant’s right to recover the principal sum under the mortgage and interest owing was barred from July 2012 and July 2006 respectively.

The issue was of significance to the husband and the wife because the mortgaged properties formed a significant portion of the property available for division between them in their property settlement proceedings. The primary judge found that the appellant’s interest as a mortgagee had been extinguished and so his Honour went on to determine the appropriate division of the husband and the wife’s property including the three properties. The husband filed a Notice of Cross Appeal challenging the primary judge’s division of property, which was dismissed.

Thus, the appeal primarily concerned the proper construction of s 24 of the Limitation Act. More specifically, what did the words ‘subject to … the Real Property Act 1861’ mean? And was the appellant’s relief under the mortgage barred or extinguished by operation of the Limitation Act?

The appellant’s contention that his rights under the registered mortgage had not been extinguished effectively meant that s 24 of the Limitation Act only applies to unregistered dealings, despite registered dealings being the usual way of dealing with land in Queensland. This view highlighted a tension between the Limitation Act and the Land Title Act, or statutes of limitation and the indefeasibility of titles. The Full Court found that the fact that a title may be infeasible, does not mean that it is permanent because the purpose of statutes of limitations was obvious; to ensure that a person or entity who has a right to land, which requires steps to be taken to enforce the title, does so within a reasonable time or loses their right to do so.

Having regard to the origin of the Limitation Act, a comparison of the counterparts in the legislation of other jurisdictions upon which s 24 of the Limitation Act was based, an analysis of relevant parliamentary materials and a review of provisions of the Land Title Act, the Full Court found that it was sufficient to find that the words ‘subject to… the Real Property Act 1861’ did not mean what the appellant contended it to mean and that the appellant’s title was extinguished by s 24 of the Limitation Act.

The point had not been the subject of any previous decision, which is not surprising since the counterparts of s 24 of the Limitation Act in other Australian states, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, are not subject to the local equivalent of the Land Title Act.

Salvage & Fosse

[2020] FamCAFC 144 (Ryan, Aldridge & Watts JJ)

Appeal—Litigation funding order made in relation to application to set aside financial agreement—Whether the case to be raised is sufficient, in all of the circumstances, as to its nature and prospects, to justify and interim order for costs—Failure to evaluate the likely result of any property division and consider the costs to the parties—Interim spousal maintenance

This case involved consideration of a litigation funding order of $100,000 in relation to an application by the de facto wife (the respondent) to set aside a Cohabitation Agreement. The primary judge also made an order sought by the respondent for interim spousal maintenance in the amount of $516.06 per week.

The parties’ relationship spanned about 14 years, which involved a period of separation of about two years part way through. When the relationship resumed, the parties made a Cohabitation Agreement pursuant to ss 264 and 266 of the Property Law Act 1974 (Qld) which, if found to be binding, excluded the making of orders under Pt VIIIAB of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (the Act).

The majority (Ryan & Aldridge JJ) allowed the appeal against the interim costs order for the respondent’s litigation expenses. Their Honours found that the primary judge failed to evaluate the nature and quality of the respondent’s claim to set aside the Cohabitation Agreement and achieve property settlement under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (the Act). The majority observed that the purpose of making interim costs orders for litigation expenses would be lost if the likely final orders in relation to the substantive case would not justify the expenditure. The question to be answered is whether an interim costs order is justified in all of the circumstances.

In this case, not only did the respondent need to persuade the Court that her claim that the Cohabitation Agreement ought to be set aside had merit, but that in the subsequent property application she would receive sufficient settlement orders to justify that course. The majority found that a judge is required to evaluate the quality and nature of the applicant’s claim and the likely result and that without this evaluation, it could not be determined that an interim costs order is justified in all of the circumstances.

In partial dissent, Watts J found that the appeal ought to be dismissed in its entirety. His Honour concluded that the test is contained in Strahan & Strahan (Interim Property Orders) (2011) FLC 93-466 adopting the considerations referred to in Paris King Investments Pty Ltd v Rayhill [2006] NSWSC 578; that an applicant for a litigation funding order must have ‘at least an arguable case’. His Honour determined that the primary judge was satisfied that the respondent had met this threshold and that no other considerations needed to be fulfilled.

Appendix 4 Information Publication Scheme

Entities subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme. This requirement, in Part II of the FOI Act, has replaced the former requirement to publish a Section 8 statement in an annual report.

An agency plan showing what information is published in accordance with the Information Publication Scheme requirements is accessible from agency websites.

The freedom of information and the Information Publication Scheme agency plan for the Family Court can be found at www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/contact-us/freedom-of-information-and-information-publication-scheme/foi-ips-plan.

Access to information outside the Freedom of Information Act

Rule 24.13 of the Family Law Rules 2004 provides that a search of the Court’s records may be undertaken by the Attorney-General, a party, a lawyer for a party, a child representative, a child welfare authority if the case affects, or may affect, the welfare of a child, or a person granted leave by the Court or a registrar. Leave may be granted if a proper interest is shown and may be subject to conditions, or for a person researching the Court record.

There are other legislative provisions that limit publication in various proceedings; for example, s 121 Family Law Act 1975. In addition, Part XIA of the Family Law Act 1975 gives the Court general power to suppress/prohibit publication of evidence.

Enquiries concerning access to documents or freedom of information matters generally should be directed to:

Chief Executive Officer and Principal Registrar
Family Court of Australia
GPO Box 9991
Melbourne VIC 3000

or emailed to clientfeedback@familycourt.gov.au.

Further advice on making freedom of information requests may be obtained by calling (02) 9893 5748.

The Court received nine freedom of information requests during 2019–20. At 30 June 2020, there were no matters outstanding before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Categories of documents

The Family Court registries maintain the following categories of documents on behalf of the Court:

  • documents relating to matters heard by the Court including applications, affidavits, transcripts, orders and copies of judgments
  • registers and indexes of matters coming to the Court, and
  • general correspondence.

The Family Court maintains the following categories of documents:

  • general correspondence
  • documents concerning the development and implementation of policy, guidelines and procedures, and
  • documents concerning the Court’s administrative operations.

Other documents

The Court holds and makes available on request a range of documents including brochures, fact sheets and general information leaflets. These are available on the Court’s website at www.familycourt.gov.au.

Privacy

The Court holds personal information for two purposes:

  • to help resolve and, if necessary, determine matters before the Court (the judicial purpose), and/or
  • to assist in administration (the administrative purpose).

Information used for judicial purposes is held in case files and the case management computer system. This information is exempt from the Privacy Act 1988 and Freedom of Information Act 1982. Other statutory provisions and non-publication powers of the Court, designed to protect parties and their children, are applicable to this information.

Information used for administrative purposes is collected as part of the day-to-day running of the Court. Many documents for administrative purposes are held by the Federal Court as the provider of the corporate services for the Court.

The Australian Government Agencies Privacy Code came into force on 1 July 2018. Agencies are required to take reasonable steps to implement practices, procedures and systems to ensure compliance with the code. Consistent with these requirements, the Court has the following in place:

  • Privacy Management Plan 2018–19
  • Privacy Impact Assessment Policy, and
  • Data Breach Response Plan.

These documents can be accessed on the Court’s website at www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/contact-us/privacy/.

During 2018–19, a Privacy Awareness eLearning module was released to be completed by all staff. Completion of this module continued throughout 2019–20.

In addition, the Court has a designated Privacy Champion and Privacy Officer.

Feedback and service improvements

Feedback helps to drive service improvement and the Court invites feedback, including suggestions and complaints, about administrative matters such as privacy, security, a Court policy, or the way correspondence has been handled.

Full details about feedback and complaints are contained in Part 3 of this report (Report on Court performance).

Appendix 5 External involvement

The Family Court has a number of strategies for strengthening its partnerships with clients and other stakeholders within the family law system, such as legal practitioners, non-government organisations, and government agencies and departments.

External stakeholders at the strategic level influence, either directly or indirectly, the direction of the family law system within Australia.

They include:

  • the Attorney-General’s Department
  • other government departments and agencies
  • child welfare authorities
  • the Department of Human Services
  • legal services commissions and community legal centres
  • law societies and the Law Council of Australia
  • community-based and non-government organisations, and
  • the Australian Federal Police.

Relationships with these groups are managed either by the Chief Justice, other judges or the Chief Executive Officer and Principal Registrar on behalf of the Chief Justice.

There are several established channels through which external stakeholders can inform the Court and affect its processes and client service delivery, including the following:

Australian Institute of Family Studies

The Australian Institute of Family Studies was established under s 114B of the Family Law Act and is a forum for exchange of information and research.

Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia

The Chief Justice meets regularly with the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia and the family law and general federal law committees of state, territory and regional Bars and Law Societies.

Appendix 6 Committees

Table A6.1: Judicial committees, 30 June 2020
Committee Terms of reference

Policy Advisory Committee

Chair: Chief Justice Alstergren

To support the Chief Justice in the administration of the Court and to provide strategic advice and policy direction, particularly in relation to legislative, procedural and administrative changes likely to affect the Family Court and its users.

Finance Committee

Chair: Justice Benjamin

To provide judicial input to the Court’s annual budget in relation to the funding and resourcing of judicial work.

Rules Committee

Chair: Justice Rees

To consider all necessary or proposed rule changes. Section 123 of the Family Law Act 1975 provides that a majority of judges may make rules of Court in relation to practices and procedures to be followed in the Family Court.

Court Performance Committee

Chair: Deputy Chief Justice McClelland

To ensure the implementation and maintenance of case management systems designed to achieve maximum efficiency in the discharge of the Court’s work.

Judicial Education and Professional Development Committee

Chair: Justice Macmillan

To develop, implement and oversee judicial education in the Court by formulating a comprehensive plan for ongoing and extensive judicial education and to provide advice to the Chief Justice on judicial education issues.

Judicial Welfare Committee

Chair: Justice Gill

To develop and implement judicial wellbeing initiatives in the Court and to provide advice to the Chief Justice on judicial wellbeing issues.

Legislation and Law Reform Committee

Chair: Justice Strickland

To advise the Chief Justice on matters pertaining to legislation and law reform.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Committee

Chair: Justice Benjamin

To promote and improve access to justice for Indigenous families, by ensuring the Court’s administration and judiciary work together to enable and facilitate the participation of Indigenous Australians in the Court’s operations and processes.

Family Violence Committee

Chair: Judge Hughes

* joint committee

To provide advice to the Chief Justice, the Chief Judge and the Chief Executive Officer and Principal Registrar of both Courts on the issue of family violence.

Children’s Committee

Chair: Judge Cole OAM

* joint committee

To explore the work to be undertaken with respect to the involvement of children in parenting proceedings and improving the experiences of children in the family law system.

Research and Ethics Committee

Chair: Justice Stevenson

* joint committee

To consider research proposals that are received by the Court on their merits and against ethical guidelines.

Joint Rules Harmonisation Working Group

Chair: The Honourable Dr Chris Jessup QC

* joint committee

Responsible for developing a common set of rules, forms and case management in the courts.

Joint Costs Advisory Committee

Chair: Justice Benjamin AM

To inquire into, and make recommendations on, any variations in the quantum of costs (including expenses and fees for witnesses) allowable to legal practitioners which should be contained in the scales of costs in the Rules of the respective courts.

Audit and Risk Management Committee

Chair: Mr Ian Govey, External Member

The Audit Committee is established in accordance with s 45 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. The CEO must establish and maintain an Audit Committee, with the functions and responsibilities required by s 17 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014.

Digital Court Program Steering Group

To oversee the introduction of the Digital Court File and document management system and associated case management.

Federal Court Security Committee

Chair: Justice Logan (Federal Court)

* joint committee

Considers issues of security across the Federal Courts with cross-jurisdictional representation, supporting the overarching security issues across the entity.

Appendix 7 Judge activities

Chief Justice Alstergren

Professional and other memberships

  • National Judicial College of Australia
  • Law Institute of Victoria
  • Victorian Bar
  • Judicial Conference of Australia
  • International Hague Network of Judges

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 3 July 2019, The International Centre for Family Law, Policy and Practice, University of Westminster Law School, Gender, Inclusivity and Protecting the 21st Century Family Conference, Westminster, United Kingdom, Plenary Session Chair.
  • 2 August 2019, Hunter Valley Family Law Practitioners Association and Newcastle registry of the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia, Hunter Valley Family Law Conference, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, keynote speaker.
  • 5–8 August 2019, Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, Annual Judges’ Plenary, Sydney.
  • 31 October 2019, Law Institute of Victoria, Young Lawyers Function, Melbourne, welcome speech.
  • 20 November 2019, The Victorian Bar, Meet the Judges, Melbourne.
  • 9 December 2019, Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, Indonesian Delegation, Sydney, welcome speech.
  • 7 February 2020, Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators, Arbitration Seminar, Melbourne. Presented: Arbitration in Family Law Property.
  • 10 February 2020, Law Institute of Victoria, Inaugural Law Institute of Victoria State of the Profession Briefing 2020, Melbourne. Presented: The Challenges and Opportunities in the Court for 2020.
  • 5 March 2020, Law Council of Australia, Immigration Conference, Melbourne, welcome speech.
  • 6 March 2020, Australian Bar Association and Bar Association of Queensland, Annual Conference, Brisbane, Plenary session Chair.
  • 29 April 2020, Victorian Bar, In Conversation with His Honour, Will Alstergren, Chief Justice of the Family Court and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court and Geoffrey Dickson, QC, webinar guest speaker.
  • 7 May 2020, Victorian Law Foundation, Law Week Webinar: Domestic Violence in the Age of COVID-19, webinar guest speaker.
  • 21 May 2020, Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, Webinar: COVID-19 List Panel Discussion, panellist.

Deputy Chief Justice Robert McClelland

Professional and other memberships

  • Law Society of New South Wales
  • New South Wales Bar Association

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 2 August 2019, Hunter Valley Family Law Practitioners Association, Hunter Valley Family Law Conference, Hunter Valley. Presented: The Court and the Profession – Partners in Achieving the Just, Timely and Cost Effective Resolution of Disputes.
  • 23 August 2019, NSW Legal Aid, Family Law Conference Awards, Sydney.
  • 31 October 2019, National Judicial College, Judicial Officers with Leadership Responsibilities, Manly.
  • 16 November 2019, Toongabbie Legal Centre, Toongabbie Legal Centre 12th Annual Community Fundraising Dinner, Toongabbie.
  • 29 November 2019, The Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators, Arbitration for the Family Law, Sydney.
  • 9 February 2020, Law Council of Australia, Family Law Intensive 2020, Sydney. Presented: Update on some significant initiatives.
  • 13 February 2020, Family Court of Australia, Judicial Delegation of Japan, Sydney.
  • 7 March 2020, Toongabbie Legal Centre, Family Law Centre, Toongabbie. Presented: The assessment of liabilities in family law cases.

Justice Steven Strickland

Professional and other memberships

  • Law Society of South Australia
  • Family Law Section Law Council of Australia
  • Judicial Conference of Australia
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
  • Australian institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 6–7 September 2019, The Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators Arbitration training, Adelaide.
  • 23 October 2019, Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, Appeals Training, Melbourne.
  • Intermittent, Law Society of South Australia and Law School, Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice Advocacy Coaching Clinics.
  • Note: Justice Strickland’s involvement in continuing legal development – all conferences and events attendances cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Justice Robert Benjamin AM

Professional and other memberships

  • Law Society Indigenous Issues Committee (New South Wales)
  • National Judicial College of Australia
  • Deputy President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (part-time)
  • Chair, College of Law: Coordination of Scholarships
  • Deputy President of the Academic Committee of the College of Law
  • Law Society of the Northern Territory
  • Centre for Legal Studies Tasmanian Legal Practice Course
  • St George-Sutherland, The Law Society of New South Wales

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 13–15 September 2019, Eastern Suburbs Family Law Practice Group Inc, Eastern Suburbs Family Law Practice Annual Conference, Carrington.
  • 16 October 2019, University of Sydney, Diploma in Law Alumni, Parliament House, Sydney.
  • 24 October 2019, Law Society of New South Wales, Annual dinner, Town Hall Sydney.
  • 7 November 2019, Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales, 40th Anniversary Legal Aid Commission Dinner, Parliament House, Sydney.
  • 9–10 November 2019, Riverina Law Society, Annual Conference, Griffith.

Justice Victoria Bennett AO

Professional and other memberships

  • Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Continuing Presidential Member
  • Co-chair, Association of International Family Judges
  • Judicial Officers Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Committee
  • International Association of Women Judges
  • Australian Association of Women Judges
  • Association of International Judicial Administration
  • Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration
  • Victorian Bar Association
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (International and Australian Chapter)
  • Member, Magistrates Court of Victoria, Family Violence Taskforce
  • Member, Judicial Advisory Group on Family Violence
  • Member, Asian Law Centre Review, University of Melbourne
  • Fellow, International Association of Family Lawyers

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 5 July 2019, The University of Westminster, London, Gender, Inclusivity and Protecting the 21st Century, London. Presented: Voice not a Choice – the voice of the child domestically and in international child abduction cases under the 1980 Convention.
  • 20–22 September 2019, Family Law Practitioners Association of Western Australia, weekend conference, Perth. Presented: The 1996 Child Protection Convention and How it Works.
  • 31 October 2019, Law Institute of Victoria, Family Court and Federal Circuit Court panel discussion and networking evening, Melbourne.
  • 19 November 2019, Global Affairs Canada in conjunction with the Supreme Judge Department of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and HccH, Seminar on Child Rights in International Family Disputes, Amman, Jordan. Presented: Australia’s experience of mediation under the 1980 Convention and its relevance to mediation of international family disputes without international legal frameworks in place.
  • 22–24 January 2020, Law Society of the Northern Territory, Start at the Top Family Law Conference 2020, Darwin. Presented: Preparation for International Relocation Cases.
  • 12 March 2020, Judicial College of Victoria, Koori Twilight – Voice, Treaty, Truth, Warren Learning Centre, Judicial College of Victoria. Chairperson of presentation by Professor Megan Davis The Long Road to Recognition.
  • 27 May 2020, Law Institute of Victoria, Family Law Implications of COVID-19, via Microsoft Teams. Presented: Family Law Implications of COVID-19 – Your Questions answered.
  • 11 June 2020, United Kingdom and Australian Hague Network Judges, meeting of International Hague Network Judges for the European Region, via Microsoft Teams. Presented: International Perspective of Hague Network Judges during and in the aftermath of COVID-19 restrictions.
  • 19 June 2020, United Kingdom and Australian Hague Network Judges, Meeting of International Hague Network Judges for the Americas Region, via Microsoft Teams. Presented: International Perspective of Hague Network Judges during and in the aftermath of COVID-19 restrictions.

Justice Judith Ryan

Professional and other memberships

  • International Association of Women Judges
  • National Judicial Conference of Australia, Family Violence Committee

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 2–3 August 2019, Hunter Valley Family Law Practitioners Association Annual Conference, Pokolbin. Presented: Latest and Greatest cases: a review of recent important cases.
  • 8 August 2019, Federal Circuit Court, Annual Judges’ Plenary, Sydney. Presented: Reasons for Judgment.
  • 9 August 2019, Law Society of New South Wales, Specialist Accreditation Conference, Sydney. Panel discussion: Meet the Judges – how to work with them.
  • 23–25 September 2019, Family Court, Malaysian judicial delegation, An overview of the Family Law in Australia, Sydney.
  • 22 November 2019, Australian National University, End of Year Workshop, Canberra. Presented: Law and Justice Development Community of Practice.
  • 9–13 December 2019, Family Court, Religious Courts of Indonesia Delegation, Sydney. Presented: Voice of the Child in Family Law Proceedings.
  • 31 January 2020, Family Court, Meeting of High Religious Courts of Indonesia, via teleconference. Presented: Overview of recent Indonesia Judicial delegation visit.
  • 13 February 2020, Family Court, visit from Justice Yuko Miyazaki, Supreme Court Japan and delegation, Sydney. Presented: Family Court use of technology and electronic appeals.
  • 16 April 2020, Family Court, Presentation to Religious Courts of Indonesia, via Zoom. Presented: Keeping Family Courts open during COVID-19.
  • 21 May 2020, UNICEF webinar, Access to Justice for Children and COVID-19: Webinar #2, via Zoom. Presented: Keeping Family Courts open during COVID-19.
  • 8 June 2020, University of Technology Sydney, Family Law Lecture, via Zoom. Presented: Re Kelvin: Gender Dysphoria – UTS Family Law.

Justice Stewart Austin

Professional and other memberships

  • New South Wales Bar Association

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 2 August 2019, Hunter Valley Family Law Practitioners Association, Annual Conference, Hunter Valley. Presented: You Be the Judge.
  • 16 August 2019, Newcastle Bar Association, Bar Association Dinner, Newcastle.
  • 23–25 October 2019, University of Newcastle, University Moots, Family Court, Newcastle registry.
  • 1 November 2019, Newcastle Law Society, annual dinner, Newcastle.
  • 6 December 2019, Hunter Valley Law Society, Seminar, Imperial Hotel, Maitland. Presented: The Desirable Simplicity of Litigation.
  • 3 February 2020, Newcastle Law Society, Cocktail Reception for Opening of Law Term, Newcastle.
  • 2 June 2020, Kurri Kurri High School, via Zoom. Presented to Legal Studies students about a future career in family law.

Justice Margaret Cleary

Professional and other memberships

  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Committee
  • Australian Institute of Company Directors
  • Law School Advisory Board, Newcastle University
  • Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 2–3 August 2019, Hunter Valley Family Law Practitioners Association, annual conference, Hunter Valley. Presented: Preparation and Presentations – Affidavits and Advocacy; You be the Judge.
  • 5–7 August 2019, Family Court, Annual Judges’ Plenary, Sydney.
  • 16–17 August 2019, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, 6th Annual Conference, Plenary and Workshops, Ethics: Duties and Dilemmas in Family Law, Sydney. Presented: Psychologists – superhero or supervillain?
  • 1 October 2019, Hunter Valley Family Law Practitioners Association, Lunchtime Seminar, Newcastle registry. Presented: All Ready for Trial.
  • 14, 15 and 28 October 2019, Newcastle University, Moots – mock trials, Newcastle registry.
  • 1 November 2019, Newcastle Law Society, Annual Members’ Dinner, Newcastle.
  • 3 February 2020, Newcastle Law Society, Opening of the Law Term, Newcastle State Courts.

Justice Ann Ainslie-Wallace

Professional and other memberships

  • Australian Association of Women Judges
  • International Bar Association
  • New South Wales Bar Association
  • Australian Institute of Judicial Administration
  • National Judicial College of Australia
  • Australian Academy of Law
  • Honorary Doctorate of Law, University of Technology Sydney
  • Master Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple London
  • Fellow Australian Academy of Law
  • Chair, College of Law Master of Applied Law [Family Law] Advisory Committee
  • Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Technology, Sydney
  • Chair, Australian Advocacy Institute
  • Chair, Australian Advocacy Institute Management Committee
  • Visiting Faculty Member National Institute for Trial Advocacy (United States of America)
  • Council Member, National Judicial College of Australia
  • Committee Member, National Judicial College of Australia Dialogues Program
  • Steering Committee Member, National Judicial College of Australia, Family Violence Training Program
  • University of Technology Sydney, High Achiever program Mentor

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 10–15 November 2019, National Judicial Orientation Program, Brisbane, Presenter and member of organising committee.
  • 2–6 February 2020, National Judicial Orientation Program, Sydney, Presenter and member of organising committee.
  • 3 July 2019, Australian Advocacy Institute, New South Wales Department of Public Prosecutions, General Advocacy Skills.
  • 7 August 2019, National Judicial College of Australia, Federal Circuit Court Judgment writing session.
  • 9 August 2019, The Law Society of New South Wales, Specialist Accreditation Conference, Meet the Judges Panel.
  • 21 September 2019, Australian Advocacy Institute New South Wales Legal Aid, Case Theory Family Law.
  • 26 October 2019, Australian Advocacy Institute Sydney General Skills.
  • 8–9 November 2019, Australian Advocacy Institute New South Wales Bar Association General Skills.
  • 16 November 2019, Australian Advocacy Institute New South Wales Law Society General Skills.
  • 7–8 February 2020, Australian Advocacy Institute Advocacy Skills Teacher Training.
  • 13 March 2020, Queensland Law Society Family Law Symposium.

Justice Colin Forrest

Professional and other memberships

  • Queensland Bar Association
  • Family Law Practitioners Association of Queensland
  • Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia
  • National Judicial Conference of Australia
  • Hellenic Australian Lawyers Association
  • Australian Institute of International Affairs, Queensland Chapter

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 14 October 2019, Australian Institute of International Affairs, Annual Conference, Canberra.
  • 31 October 2019, Australian Academy of Law, Patron’s Address, Brisbane.
  • 1 November 2019, Family Law Practitioners’ Association of Queensland, FLPA in the Tropics, Cairns. Presented: Latest and Greatest Family Law Cases.
  • 14 November 2019, White Ribbon Day Legal Profession Breakfast, Brisbane.
  • 14 November 2019, Family Law Section, Law Council of Australia, Young Practitioners, Family Lawyers Event, Brisbane.
  • 22 November 2019, Hellenic Australian Lawyers’ Association, Alex Freeleagus Oration, Brisbane.
  • 13 March 2020, Queensland Law Society, Symposium, Brisbane. Presented: Latest and Greatest Case Law and Legislative Developments.

Justice Kirsty Macmillan

Professional and other memberships

  • National Judicial College of Australia
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
  • World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 30 August 2019, Tasmanian Bar, Dinner, Hobart.
  • 5–7 August 2019, Family Court, Annual Judges’ Plenary, Sydney.

Justice Murray Aldridge

Professional and other memberships

  • Board and Council Member of the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 8–9 November 2019, AIJA, Youth Justice Conference, Melbourne.
  • 8 August 2019, Federal Circuit Court, Annual Judges’ Plenary, Sydney. Presented: Case Summaries – Justice Murray Aldridge.

Justice David Berman

Professional and other memberships

  • Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 16–18 August 2019, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts conference, Sydney. Presented: The Confusion of Tongues: Rebuilding the Tower of Babel; and Ethics, Duties and Dilemmas in the Family Law.
  • 21 August 2019, Darwin Practitioners, Darwin Legal Aid. Presented: Affidavits – some further thought.
  • 23 September 2019, 2019 South Australian Bar Association, Bar Reader’s Course, Adelaide. Presented: The Family Court.
  • 23 January 2020, Start at the Top Family Law Conference, Darwin. Presented: Divvying up the Debt.

Justice Hilary Hannam

Professional and other memberships

  • Judicial Conference of Australia
  • Australian Association of Women Judges
  • Taulumande Youth Service – Board Member

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 5–6 August 2019, Family Court, Annual Judges’ Plenary, Sydney.

Justice Catherine Carew

Professional and other memberships

  • Association of International Family Law Judges
  • Judicial Conference of Australia

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 10–11 August 2019, Samuel Griffith Society, Annual Conference (2019), Melbourne.
  • 22 October 2019, Queensland University of Technology Law Founders’ Scholarships Breakfast, Brisbane.
  • 31 October 2019, Supreme Court of Queensland, Australian Academy of Law Patron’s Address, Brisbane.
  • 14 November 2019, Family Law Section conference, Brisbane.
  • 11 December 2019, Supreme Court of Queensland, Supreme Court Greetings, Brisbane.
  • 12 December 2019, Federal Court of Australia, Silk Bows, Brisbane.
  • 6 March 2020, Attorney General of Queensland, International Women’s Day function, Brisbane.

Justice Shane Gill

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 1–3 August 2019, Hunter Valley Family Law Practitioners Association, Family Law Conference, Pokolbin.
  • 5–7 August 2019, Family Court of Australia, Annual Judges’ Plenary, Sydney.
  • 15 August 2019, Federal Court of Australia, Resilience Training, Canberra.
  • 10 October 2019, High Court of Australia, Artificial Intelligence, Canberra.
  • 25 November 2019, Family Court of Australia, Policy Advisory Committee Meeting, Melbourne.
  • 29 February–1 March 2020, Sentencing conference, Canberra.

Justice Joshua Wilson

Professional and other memberships

  • Association of International Family Judges
  • Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration
  • General Council, International Association of Judges
  • Asian, North American and Oceanian group of the International Association of Judges
  • Family Law Section, Law Council of Australia
  • Australian Bar Association
  • Judicial Conference of Australia
  • 4 New Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London
  • Professor of Law, Deakin University
  • Vice Chairman, International Advocacy Training Council (London and Hong Kong)
  • Professorial Advisory Board, Professorial Advisory Board, Deakin University
  • Australian Calabrese Cultural Association
  • Hellenic Australian Lawyers

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 13 August 2019, Melbourne University, Beyond Law School: Paths to Associateship Panel, Melbourne Law School, Carlton.
  • 2 September 2019, Family Court, Monash University Law School – Moot, Melbourne.
  • 9 September 2019, Family Court, Victorian Bar Competition, Melbourne.
  • 10 September 2019, Family Court, Deakin University Law School – Moot, Melbourne.
  • 15–19 September 2019, International Association of Judges, International Association of Judges Annual Meeting, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. Presented: Harassment, in a Broad Sense – Moral and Sexual – and its Consequences on Labour Relations; and Judicial Stress—An Australian Perspective.
  • 21–24 September 2019, Australian Calabrese Cultural Association, International Conference, Calabria, Italy. Presented: Contributions of the Calabrese Community in Australia.
  • 29 October 2019, Deakin University, Deakin Law School Appreciation Evening, Melbourne.
  • 31 October 2019–1 November 2019, National Judicial College of Australia, Judicial Officers with Leadership Responsibilities, Manly.
  • 3 December 2019, Deakin University, Melbourne. Presented: The Australian Judiciary in the Spotlight.
  • 20–24 January 2020, Australian Bar Association Advocacy Training Council, Advanced Trial Advocacy Intensive 2020, Melbourne. Presented: Masterclass on Final Addresses – My Top Five Tips.
  • 21 April 2020, Deakin University, Twilight Lecture, Melbourne. Presented: Judges on Ethics.
  • 21 May 2020, Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, National Arbitration List Information Session, via Microsoft Teams.
  • 10 June 2020, Swinburne University Law School, webinar – Effective Communication, via Zoom.
  • 27 June 2020, hosted by Mr Oba Nsugbe QC, SAN of Pump Court Chambers, London, United Kingdom, webinar – Judging and Advocacy in Virtual Court Hearings – An International Experience, via Zoom.

Justice Timothy McEvoy

Professional and other memberships

  • The American Law Institute
  • Visiting Professor, The University of Virginia School of Law
  • Judicial Conference of Australia
  • Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration
  • The Victorian Bar Inc.
  • The Tasmanian Bar
  • Family Law Section, Law Council of Australia
  • The Medico-Legal Society of Victoria

Conferences or events attended during the year

  • 30 August 2019, Tasmanian Bar, Dinner, Hobart.
  • 10 September 2019, Melbourne Law School, Academy of Social Sciences in Australia Fay Gale Lecture: ‘The Two University Freedoms: Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech’ address by Professor Adrienne Stone, Melbourne.
  • 18 October 2019, Dever List, Victorian Bar, Dever List Dinner, Melbourne.
  • 6 November 2019, Allens Linklaters, Melbourne Law School Breakfast with Baron Patten of Barnes, CH, PC, Melbourne.
  • 13 November 2019, Women’s Legal Service Victoria, Annual Women’s Legal Breakfast, Melbourne.
  • 28 January 2020, The Victorian Bar, Red Mass for the opening of the legal year, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne.
  • 1–6 February 2020, National Judicial College of Australia, National Judicial Orientation Program, Sydney.
  • 5 March 2020, Melbourne Law School, International Women’s Day Breakfast with Ms Wendy Harris, President of the Victorian Bar, Melbourne.
  • 19–27 March 2020, University of Virginia School of Law, Globalisation and private dispute resolution, JD/LLM course, online from Melbourne.

Professional legal development

The Court’s judges contribute to professional legal development through their membership of, and participation in, professional and research-based associations.

Justice Benjamin AM from the Hobart registry is a part-time Deputy President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and Deputy Chair of the Academic Committee of the College of Law. His Honour also continues to assist the Centre for Legal Studies’ Tasmanian Legal Practice Course and supports the legal practice students at their various functions interacting with the profession.

Justice Strickland from the Adelaide registry is the judge responsible for advising the Chief Justice on matters of law reform. Justice Strickland is also a Director of AIFLAM, and is the longest serving Director on that body; the Judge representing the Family Court on the Council of Chief Justices Rules Harmonisation Committee; the President of the Australian Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts; the Judge representing the Family Court on the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties) Act 2018 Steering Committee; and the Judge responsible for the Family Court’s submission to the Issues Paper and the Discussion Paper of the Australian Law Reform Commission review into the family law system.

Justice Bennett AO from the Melbourne registry is a Continuing Presidential Member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal; member of the Judicial Officers’ Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Committee; member of the Magistrates Court of Victoria, Family Violence Taskforce; member of the Judicial Advisory Group on Family Violence; and member of the Court’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Outreach Committee.

Justice Ainslie-Wallace from the Sydney registry is Master Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple London; Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law; Chair, College of Law Master of Applied Law (Family Law) Advisory Committee; Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Technology Sydney; Chair of the Australian Advocacy Institute; Chair of the Australian Advocacy Institute Management Committee; Visiting Faculty Member, National Institute for Trial Advocacy (USA); Committee Member, National Judicial College of Australia Dialogues Program; Steering Committee Member, National Judicial College of Australia Family Violence Training Program; Council Member, National Judicial College of Australia; and University of Technology Sydney High Achiever Mentoring Program mentor.

Judges are also involved in the development and conduct of the National Judicial Orientation Program, delivered through the National Judicial College, and teaching for other judicial education bodies throughout Australia.

Judges regularly present to law societies and bar associations in their respective jurisdictions, as well as holding informal meetings with members of the legal profession and participating in stakeholder meetings. Judges are often asked to speak at secondary schools and lecture at law schools about particular topics and their work generally.

Justice Bennett from the Melbourne registry is one of the Hague Network Judges for Australia, Chief Justice the Honourable William Alstergren and the Honourable Justice Jillian Williams being the others.

During 2019–20, Justice Bennett undertook direct judicial communication with the following countries:

  • Brazil
  • United Kingdom/Scotland
  • New Zealand
  • Turkey
  • United States of America
  • Norway, and
  • Singapore.

Appendix 8 International cooperation

In 2019–20, the Family Court continued its commitment to the exchange of ideas and capacity building with other Courts internationally. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted planned activities and meant that from early 2020 a number of scheduled international delegations were deferred, however the Courts have since developed other ways to meet and share information and there has been considerable engagement with others internationally using remote access technology.

Malaysia

In September 2019, the Family Court hosted a delegation from Malaysia led by the Hon. Dato’ Dr. Haji Mohd Na’im bin Haji Mokhtar, Chief Justice and Director General of the Syariah Courts of Malaysia, Department of Syariah Judiciary Malaysia. The delegation was based in Sydney and over three days, delegates met with judges of the Family Court, the District Court of New South Wales and the New South Wales Local Court. Issues around trial process, vulnerable witnesses, family violence and the needs of children following separation were explored. Spousal maintenance and child support were discussed and officers of the Child Support Agency presented on the Australian Child Support Scheme. Since then, the Family Court and Malaysian Syariah Court, in conjunction with Cate Sumner and Leisha Lister of Law and Development Partners, have established an important dialogue in relation to family law generally, the challenges to Courts and the community of continuing to provide access to the Courts during the pandemic and matters of interest in the region.

Japan

On 13 February 2020, the Family Court hosted a delegation from the Supreme Court of Japan; including Justice Yuko Miyazaki and Judge Masayuki Sakaniwa. The meeting with the Family Court was part of a larger schedule of consultation between the delegation and Australian Courts. The meeting focused on private family law in Australia and the use of technology for trials and appeals. Opportunities for the use of artificial intelligence in the resolution of financial disputes were also explored. A demonstration was given of electronic appeal books and how the Full Court has established an entirely electronic appeal process.

Indonesia

The Family Court continued its collaboration with the Supreme Court of Indonesia and the Religious Courts. The Family Court of Australia was the first foreign Court to engage with the family courts for Muslim citizens in Indonesia. That relationship commenced in 2004 and is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding with the Supreme Court of Indonesia.

The relationship is supported through the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice (AIPJ2) and builds on the strong relationships formed between the Courts and civil society organisations for more than a decade. In December 2019, the Family Court hosted a delegation led by Dr. H. Aco Nur, S.H.,M.H., the Director General of Badilag. Badilag is the administrative agency that oversees the 400 plus Religious Courts and 29 High Religious Courts across Indonesia. The delegation included judges of the Religious Courts from Jakarta, Surabaya and Aceh, and from the Supreme Court. The National Planning and Development Agency, BAPPENAS, was also represented. The visit objectives were to deepen the Religious Courts of Indonesia’s understanding of:

  • family law processes and the role of the Family Court
  • the application of the best interest of the child in family law cases
  • the voice of the child in family law cases
  • family violence and the protection of women and children
  • special measures provided to vulnerable litigants (disability inclusive Courts)
  • the implementation of eFiling through Commonwealth Courts Portal and the harmonised application forms
  • child support and spousal maintenance
  • enforcement of judgments in divorce cases, and
  • the establishment of a connection with a university or research centre for future cooperation.

The delegation was primarily based at the Lionel Bowen Building in Sydney and spent a day at the Family Court at Parramatta, including the National Enquiry Centre. Access to Justice was a pervasive theme for the discussions and an analysis of data collated by AIPJ informed proposals for changes to the Court fee waiver program. Guidelines for hearing applications for maintenance, child custody and marriage dispensation cases were explored. In a first for regional judicial cooperation, a number of Religious Courts across Indonesia, the Family Court and the Chief Justice of the Malaysia Syariah Court met to discuss standard operating procedures developed for the Department of Syariah Judiciary in Malaysia to improve enforcements of child and spousal maintenance orders.

Since the delegation returned to Indonesia, there have been ongoing meetings between the Family Court and Badilag; including in relation to the development of eFiling and online forms.

Presentations have been given by the Family Court (Ryan J) to Indonesia remotely, including in January 2020, to a meeting of the Appeal Court judges in Bali when the Director-General of Badilag launched the Unified Application Form and in April 2020, to discuss key issues for keeping family courts open and safe during the pandemic.

Building on the example of the National Enquiry Centre, in April 2020, Badilag launched an integrated one-stop service (known as PTSP) with a chat-bot and telephone number for clients to ring the service. In May 2020, Ryan J was invited to continue a conversation with The Hon. Rosmarwardani S.H., M.H. following her appointment as the first female Chief Judge of the Mahkamah Syar’iyah Aceh.

Indonesian delegation with Family Court judges

Indonesian delegation

Justice Ryan (centre) with two Indonesian judges

Chief Justice of the Syariah Courts of Malaysia and Justice Ryan

The Courts have developed other ways to meet and share information

The Courts have developed other ways to meet and share information

Indonesian delegation

Indonesian delegation

UNICEF

In May 2020, Justice Ryan also participated in an online webinar for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) about the ‘Continued functioning of the Court system for children and women’ which focused on how high income countries have successfully managed the disruption to the justice system and maintained continuity of child justice services during the pandemic. The webinar was a part of a series of online events with the International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates and included child justice experts and senior officials from Government and Courts from Albania, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Switzerland, and the USA. The event had 177 participants from 63 countries across the globe.

Appendix 9 Contact details

Chief Justice’s Chambers

Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts
305 William Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
(GPO Box 9991, Melbourne VIC 3001)

National Enquiry Centre

The National Enquiry Centre (NEC) is the entry point for all family law telephone and email enquiries for the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia. The NEC provides information and procedural advice, forms and brochures, and referrals to community and support services. NEC staff cannot provide legal advice. The NEC is open from 8.30am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday.

PO Box 9991
Parramatta NSW 2124

Phone: 1300 352 000

TTY/voice calls: Contact the National Relay Service on 133 677 or for Speak and Listen calls contact 1300 555 727

International: +61 2 8892 8590
Email: enquiries@familylawcourts.gov.au
Family Court website: www.familycourt.gov.au
Twitter: @FamilyCourtAU
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/familycourtAU

Family law registries

Australian Capital Territory

Canberra
Nigel Bowen Commonwealth Law Courts
Cnr University Ave and Childers Street
Canberra ACT 2600
(GPO Box 9991, Canberra ACT 2601)

New South Wales

Albury
Level 1, 463 Kiewa Street
Albury NSW 2640
(PO Box 914, Albury NSW 2640)

Dubbo
Cnr Macquarie and Wingewarra Streets
Dubbo NSW 2830
(PO Box 1567, Dubbo NSW 2830)

Lismore
Level 2, 29–31 Molesworth Street
Lismore NSW 2480
(PO Box 9, Lismore NSW 2480)

Newcastle
61 Bolton Street
Newcastle NSW 2300
(PO Box 9991, Newcastle NSW 2300)

Parramatta
Garfield Barwick Commonwealth Law Courts
1–3 George Street
Parramatta NSW 2124
(PO Box 9991, Parramatta NSW 2124)

Sydney
Lionel Bowen Commonwealth Law Courts
97–99 Goulburn Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(GPO Box 9991, Sydney NSW 2001)

Wollongong
Level 1, 43 Burelli Street
Wollongong NSW 2500
(PO Box 825, Wollongong NSW 2500)

Northern Territory

Alice Springs
Westpoint Building
Cnr Railway Terrace and Stott Terrace
Alice Springs NT 0870
(GPO Box 9991, Darwin NT 0801)

Darwin
Supreme Court Building
State Square
Darwin NT 0800
(GPO Box 9991, Darwin NT 0801)

Queensland

Brisbane
Harry Gibbs Commonwealth Law Courts
119 North Quay
Brisbane QLD 4000
(GPO Box 9991, Brisbane QLD 4001)

Cairns
Commonwealth Government Centre
Level 3 and 4
104 Grafton Street
Cairns QLD 4870
(PO Box 9991, Cairns QLD 4870)

Rockhampton
Virgil Power Building
Ground Floor
46 East Street (Cnr Fitzroy Street)
Rockhampton QLD 4700
(PO Box 9991, Rockhampton QLD 4700)

Townsville
Level 2, Commonwealth Centre
143 Walker Street
Townsville QLD 4810
(PO Box 9991, Townsville QLD 4810)

South Australia

Adelaide
Roma Mitchell Commonwealth Law Courts
3 Angas Street
Adelaide SA 5000
(GPO Box 9991, Adelaide SA 5001)

Tasmania

Hobart
Edward Braddon Commonwealth Law Courts
39–41 Davey Street
Hobart TAS 7000
(GPO Box 9991, Hobart TAS 7001)

Launceston
Level 3, ANZ Building
Cnr Brisbane and George Streets
Launceston TAS 7250
(PO Box 9991, Launceston TAS 7250)

Victoria

Dandenong
53–55 Robinson Street
Dandenong VIC 3175
(PO Box 9991, Dandenong VIC 3175)

Melbourne
Owen Dixon Commonwealth Law Courts
305 William Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
(GPO Box 9991, Melbourne VIC 3001)

Western Australia

Perth
Family Court of Western Australia
Peter Durack Commonwealth Law Courts
150 Terrace Road Perth WA 6000
(GPO Box 9991, Perth WA 6848)

Appendix 10 Information required by other legislation

Table A10.1: Information required by other legislation
Legislation Page

Courts Administration Legislation Amendment Act 2016

i, 8, 53

Courts Legislation Amendment (Judicial Complaints) Act 2012

30

Family Law Act 1975

i, 8, 9, 11, 27, 32, 37, 42, 43, 44, 54, 56, 58, 59, 61, 64, 84

Freedom of Information Act 1982

61, 62

Privacy Act 1988

62

Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013

i, 8, 44, 52, 65, 84

Public Service Act 1999

i, 8, 42, 53